Monday, September 29, 2008

Escape from Spartanburg

Tomorrow we escape Spartanburg SC - we're going back to Asheville with the new pickup towing the old travel trailer. THIS time we'll have diesel and range. We've got about 2 more weeks before the Montana shows up, and we definitely will not be spending it here. Spartanburg is another classic example of the retail clot establishing itself out by the freeway with the subsequent demise of the old downtown. So, we have the usual Appleby's, Walmart and Lowes - we could be anywhere.
We saw this sign on a restaurant. I feel so much better for knowing that the catfish have returned. We did wonder where they went.

So, we're looking forward to seeing more of Asheville than was available from the bus.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Aye she's a biggun!

Behold the magnificence of the new diesel pickup truck. She's a Chevy one ton with a Duramax V8 and an Allison transmission, with a 3.73 rear end, and max towing capacity of 15k pounds. Someone in Alabama had special ordered it as a tow vehicle and then didn't buy it. So, they put it on a truck and shipped it to Spartanburg SC which is where we are now. Monday we'll get the hitch head transferred from the Dodge to the Chevy, then they'll put in the bed liner and the 50 gallon auxillary gas tank and then we will leave this place until the 5th wheel shows up at the Spartanburg Camping World and then we have to come back. The logistics of doing this have been daunting, and complicated by the lack of gasoline. Spartanburg is now out of gas. I think it all went to Asheville. We got up at 0500 this morning and got gas. We're sleepy.

So, that's what we're doing. Hope you are all well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The glamorous world of full time RV'ing

Behold last night's din-din, succulent little chicken thighs cooked on Jim's new cute little barbie. The evening started out with such promise. We grilled chicken thighs and then decided to cook the forbidden food, french fries. The fries cook at 450 degrees, a hot oven. So we were sitting there talking over cocktails waiting for the fries to be done, and then BOOM! HISSSSSSSSSSSS! Instant terror, thoughts of propane explosions, certain death, or at least a pretty good maiming. We turned off the oven, determined it wasn't the gas and then noticed the water running out from under the cabinets. As it turned out, the pex hot water tubing had somehow contacted the bottom of the really hot oven and melted. The water is under a fair amount of pressure and it just went everywhere. So, we ran out, got the water turned off and looked at each other with disbelief. Dinner ended up being chicken and almost cooked fries eaten standing up from the stove top because we would not be doing dishes.

This is one of this century's best inventions. The mobile RV repairman. I called him at 0700 hours this morning, he'd been able to get gasoline the day before, so he was out at 9 am. The pex tubing was replaced with metal tubing and all is now well. Jim is now arm wrestling with Keystone to get them to pay for the repairs.

So after washing and drying the bath towels used on the floor last night we took the bus out to the mall to walk around. Jim got shorts and a shirt at the Dillard's clearance center and I got pink fuzzy lounging pants. On sale! Cheap! Then it was off to the Farmer's Market. It's pretty cool. They've got great looking okra, tomatoes everywhere, pumpkins and jam. We were surprised to see the delicacy known as Frog Jam. Mmmmmmmmm good.

The bay where they sell to the public.

Folk art.

Hot sauce, these people have hot sauce.

Below is this year's must-give Christmas present. It makes realistic rooster crowing noises. Just think, you could have a flock of them.

It's fall, time to mutilate and eviscerate a pumpkin.

Allegedly the gas is flowing through the Colonial Pipeline to Spartanburg to be trucked in to Asheville tonight. They're showing lines of tankers at the depot on TV. We're thinking we'll get up at oh dark thirty and check the Shell, BP and Hess. I want gas! We want gas now!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No gas for you today

The lack of gasoline situation continues to worsen. They are now saying 7 to 10 days before it's appreciably better. I hate this. Whining will ensue.

This is the first of many gas lines we saw today, this is taken from the truck when we went out to ensure we had food. It was early in the morning, so we were thinking we might be able to get gas, but HAH! double HAH! - HAH!HAH!HAH!. We were so mistaken. Click on the image to get the full view of the line of cars.

This is Jim on the bus. The #9 line is about a 5 minute walk from the RV park. It's a typical hub and spoke, you take the bus in to the transit center and then back out to where you really wanted to go. The last bus here leaves the transit center at 5:30 which is sort of a bummer. Then again, parts of Asheville are scary enough that I don't think we'd be walking around in the dark, anyway.

Another gas line. The gas lines are messing up the bus schedules. The buses eject passengers from the far right lanes on the streets, which are currently full of cars queuing for gas.

A gas line in Asheville. There had been some argey-bargey and several citizens were in handcuffs. We saw one where they had just run out and the guy was having to tell the people who had been in line for hours that they were out of luck. I would hate to be him.

This line was affecting traffic in the downtown part of Asheville.

I think we'll probably go back in on the bus in the morning. Now that we know which side of the street to stand on to go North (yes, I know, how lame is that?) it will be easier. There are some cutified areas we want to go look at and some old areas as well. It's something to do. Since we're back in the stone age, or perhaps seeing the end-of-days, public transportation is becoming a must. We're running low on balsamic vinegar, that's not good, so perhaps we'll find a grocery store there as well. If not, there's one at the end of the bus line. And movies, there's a movie theater, and shopping. All things are available on the bus line.
I hate this!!!! I just want to get in the truck and drive somewhere!!! I think it's good that we don't live in places that have hurricanes, I am not pioneer stock.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Aargh! Gas Shortage in NC

It's always something. We got across the mountains, went in to the out skirts Asheville to get gas and discovered, there is no gas. Not only is there no gas, they don't expect there to be gas for a WEEK. So, we are at the Bear Creek RV park in Asheville with a little less than half a tank of gas, where we will stay until there is gas. Persons who are considering traveling to parts of the country served by the pipeline that originates in Houston would do well to check availability prior to pulling up stakes.

On the other hand, we've been talking about visiting Asheville for some time, the weather is gorgeous and we have bicycles. The only problem I foresee is cycling with the gallon water bottles. It's really frustrating, we're only 70 miles or so from Spartanburg which is where we were headed to buy the diesel pickup and await delivery of the new RV, but they don't have any gas, either, and we're afraid to try it with what's currently in the gas tank. I'll tell you what, we are getting an auxilliary fuel tank for the diesel. I'm talking hoarding here! 

The park is quite nice, we have bucolic views of scenic vistas and I think we're going to get the bikes out and go check out the area. There is an arboretum 3 miles down the road, the Biltmore estate is around here somewhere, and we want to check out down town. So, at least we're not out of gas by the side of the road in the mountains. We are safe, we have propane and best of all we have each other.

Friday, September 19, 2008

We're South Dakota residents

We arrived in Sioux Falls yesterday and went immediately to the DMV for new licenses. Ya gotta love it, took an eye test, paid $8 and we were done. I did not think it was possible to get a picture that was worse than the NC license picture, but I did. All it needs is me holding a number under my chin.
SD is another place ruled out for the final resting place (that would be the next house we buy). The wind blows constantly. It's rural. Very rural. See below. That's what most of it looks like. We're in the Yogi Bear Jellystone RV park, which is our new permanent address for voting. When you register to vote, the physical address is where ever you spent the previous night. I love that. I live in an RV park now. Anyway, it's right next to the freeway, and frankly I can not see any reason to be here other than passing through. However, the weather this weekend is supposed to be nice, and the the park is booked. People will bring their RVs out for the weekend and what? What, exactly, will they do for two days? We're mystified.

Coming up 80 and 29 we encountered abysmal roads. How abysmal you ask? This has never happened before. The entire contents of the medicine cabinet were ejected. I knew it was going to be bad when I walked in and saw my mouth guard container upside down in the middle of the floor.

This is the Sioux Falls historical district. We had a fattening lunch so we went for a walk afterwards. We were mainly drawn by the spires we could see.

This is the St. Joseph's cathedral. It's large.

So, tomorrow we're leaving. We do not have a delivery date for the RV yet so we don't know what we're doing exactly. Allegedly there are gas shortages across the Ohio valley and into the Carolinas, so that's unnerving. It's generally not as bad as the talking heads would have you believe so hopefully it won't be terrible. I'm looking forward to having a bigger gas tank and more range. The debate continues regarding 3/4 ton vs. 1 ton diesel. Currently the 3/4 ton is winning.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Correction to corn post

At one point diesel was more than gas, and mid-grade gas was more than regular gas.

This should have read: At one point diesel was less than gas, and mid-grade gas was less than regular gas.

Sorry about that.

Corn, everywhere I look I see corn

We're in Adel Iowa, which is west of Des Moines IA. We drove for a long time today and all we saw was CORN. Corn to the right of us, corn to the left of us, corn, corn, everywhere there's corn. Anyway, you get the picture. Leaving the sodden Ohio valley was without incident, gasoline was plentiful and expensive. Apparently Hurricane Ike increased the value of the gasoline in the tanks in the gas stations. At one point diesel was more than gas, and mid-grade gas was more than regular gas. Go figure. Tomorrow we will reach the promised land, Sioux Falls. We'll get drivers licenses, insurance, register to vote and then leave. After that, our only plans are to await delivery of the 5th wheel and purchase the manly diesel pickup to tow it before the current price incentives at Chevrolet are discontinued. Everyone knows what corn looks like so I'm not uploading any pictures. Hope you are all well and having more fun than we did today.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tryin' to reason with hurricane season - Part 2

Well, last night was certainly more than was predicted in terms of wind and weather. There are hundreds of thousands of people without power in the Ohio valley region. Indianapolis got hammered (which is on our route to SD). Chicago got 10 inches of rain. Anyway, the talking heads on the news are suggesting that obtaining gasoline is going to be problematic due to lack of power to run the gas stations. We're going to stay here for a day and let things out there settle down. When you have a small gas tank, the ability to get gasoline frequently is of paramount importance. So, the park has power, they lost a satellite dish so cable is not so great, but we can do laundry and go for a brisk walk. But the aircard is working well here, so we'll recap the recent travels. This is from the old Air and Space Museum. It's been updated with many more planes and descriptive text. I like this one because in one frame we see Lindberg's plane, Yeager's plane that broke the sound barrier, and Paul Allen's attempt at a space going plane. 

After the time spent in Washington DC we went up to the Newburg KOA to meet up with the Waddles. We spent one day in the Hudson Valley touring the Vanderbilt mansion, FDR's house and Mrs. Roosevelt's house. The Vanderbilt mansion was not as ornate or large as the Biltmore, but it was pretty impressive. The guide told us a lot about Mrs. Astor, the Social Register, how where you ranked decided which guest bedroom you got and all of that. Sounds like a lot or people took themselves very seriously. The Vanderbilt mansion had a pavilion for single men to bunk in outside of the main house. They will not allow you to take pictures inside which was disappointing. It was one of the last of the Gilded Age, which I learned was ended by the imposition of a federal income tax by FDR to pay for the New Deal. At FDR's house we learned a lot about FDR and how he basically saved the planet. He has his critics, some of his programs didn't work out, but he did restore faith in the government and he planted trees. Controlling the dust bowl devastation was largely done by tree planting. And in fact that's what FDR put on his income tax forms as his occupation, tree farmer. But if he had not dragged America out of the slough of despond, we would not have been able to support Britain in the second World War. The exhibits are very informative. Mrs. Roosevelt was quite the person in her own right. I never knew that JFK thought her endorsement was so important that he agreed to expand his civil rights agenda so that she would endorse him over Adlai Stevenson. The Hudson Valley is just stunningly beautiful. It's full of cute towns, old mansions, many of which have gone to rack and ruin, but it's gorgeous. 

Jim and Kim in the Italian gardens at the Vanderbilt mansion.

We took a guided bus tour one day into New York. We took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and then to Ellis Island. Then it was back to NYC. We came back two days later to see Ellis Island. It was well worth the trip to see where so many people came through. They had a temporary exhibit on Germany's attempt to exterminate the Jewish people. We learned that it was not that big of a secret among the world leaders. They knew, they did not protest, which Hitler took as tacit approval. The exhibit was dedicated to people who risked their lives, families and careers to save as any people as possible from the camps. The picture below is Ellis Island.

New York is really cool. It just hums. After awhile it wears you out.

We were in NY the second time on September 10. This is the construction site that was Ground Zero. The tour guide told us that they still do not know exactly what will be built there, but they're starting. Apparently the legal wrangling has not made it easy to go forward. So, at some point they have to shoot the lawyers and get on with it. 

After New York we returned to PA for the Hershey RV show, which is said to be the world's largest. We really did go with the intention of not buying anything, but there you go. This was an amusing little camper. It was getting a lot of attention. It's a tear drop camper with attached tent.

  So that brings us to now, where we are waiting out a day so that we can continue on to South Dakota with some assurance that gasoline will be available. Perhaps we should have flown!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tryin' to reason with hurricane season

We're in Columbus OH which is currently being affected by the tail end of Ike. The wind and the gusts are pretty impressive. We pulled in to a KOA and paid extra money to not park under the trees, since several of them have come down in the wind. The power is out, so I'm sitting here with my hair in curlers (no blow dryer) typing by lantern light. I think I'm channeling Abraham Lincoln.
We're on our way to Sioux Falls SD. Do you have any idea how many people can not spell that? That would be most of them. We're going to go get driver's licenses and set up insurance and register to vote. It's important to have the SD drivers license so that when we go to buy the new diesel pick up to pull the new 5th wheel that we bought at the RV show, that we only pay SD sales tax which is pretty dang low. Yes, we disobeyed the non-acquisition fatwa and bought a new RV. We couldn't help it, it was RV show pricing, and she's so pretty, and she has 90 gallons of grey water capacity. That is sooooooooo enticing. So, there you go.
So anyway, we're heading up to SD for residency, back to Fort Mill SC (where my brother lives) to dump the bicycles (5 of them) out of the truck, trade gas truck in on diesel truck, off to Spartenburg SC to pick up 5th wheel when it arrives, then back to Fort Mill SC to build bike rack for "basement" of 5th wheel to carry the 3 road bikes, and then off to who knows where. It's getting late in the RV season, so we have to stay south and avoid altitude because snow is evil.
The goal is still to be in Tucson for Thanksgiving with the Hancocks and to start whipping my sorry butt back into shape. We are truly pathetic in our deconditioned wretchedness. The first ride up Gate's Pass should be just awful.
Hope you are all well and happy. Despite the fact that we're going to South Dakota, we are in fine spirits and looking forward to a larger home.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Trip to the Udvar-Hazey museum

Greetings and Salutations Readers! I come to you from the Keystone state of Pennsylvania, recently of the Empire State of New York. I am dreadfully behind in posting due to a complete lack of connectivity in said Empire State. Very Frustrating to one as verbose as moi. So, catching up will have to be done.
We spent time in Washington DC. At this point I can't remember when. But it was fun. One of the things we did there was to see the Udvar-Hazey air and space museum. It's out by Dulles airport and I can not recommend it highly enough. Boeing has a wing out there, the Dash 80 is there, and it's just extremely well done. Even if you are not an airplane person, you will enjoy it. The staff has done a wonderful job of adding a human element to the exhibits. Here are some pictures for your viewing enjoyment.

The Blackbird. The coolest thing to ever take flight. I can't believe they don't make this plane anymore.

The original shuttle. This is the one they would dump off the 747 to see if it would actually glide or just sink like a rock. She never got to go into space.

Apollo command module. Can you believe they sent people into space in these things? And they lived?

This is the model used in the filming of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was the mother ship that landed in Wyoming before Richard Dreyfuss got to go live with the aliens. Apparently the model makers had a sense of humor and glued R2D2, a Volkswagon, fighters and other assorted objects to the model. We could only find R2. He was easy to spot.

The gorgeous Stratoliner. This is the one they restored, took out on a test flight, ran out of gas and ditched in Puget Sound. She has been re-restored.

What the heck is this, you may well ask. This was the "basket" for a balloon that went across the ocean (the Atlantic, I think) in the 70's. They used a catamaran in case they had to ditch in the water. It's just amazing what people will do.

This is a close up of the boat. They had a chemical toilet.

They could make tea.

They had lawn chairs.

That's a red cooler next to the porta-potty, with a Hershey bar and a loaf of Wonderbread.

This is the Enola Gay. It's just eerie standing there, thinking about what that plane accomplished.

One of the Concords. Such a pretty plane.

So, this catches me up with air and space museum part of the DC stage of the trip. Still to go... The Smithsonian!

As of today, September 10th, we are in Lancaster PA. The world's biggest RV show is in Hershey, about an hour away from here. We were not able to get an RV park any closer due to all of the people going to the show. It's in a rural part of the state, and it's just beautiful. We came down over a hill, and as far away as the horizon we could see corn, and silos and white farm houses. It was pretty spectacular.